Qatar Denies Expelling Hamas Chief Khaled Mashaal

Qatar's Foreign Minister claims Hamas chief Mashaal remains in the country and that relations between Qatar and Egypt are fine.

Cynthia Blank ,

Khaled Mashaal
Khaled Mashaal
Flash 90

Khalid bin Mohammad Al AttiyahQatar's Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced Monday that despite reports to the contrary, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal remains in the country. 

"All reports concerning the departure of Mashaal are not true," Al Attiyah said at a joint press conference with Venezuelan counterpart Delcy Rodríguez in Qatar's capital Doha. 

Reports surfaced last week that Mashaal, Hamas' politburo chief, had been expelled from the country on Tuesday along with Muslim Brotherhood members.

According to the report, which appeared in a Hamas-run news agency and was cited by CNN, Mashaal and the Muslim Brotherhood members were likely on their way to Turkey. 

Hamas and Turkey have both issued similar denials to Al Attiyah, despite Turkish newspaper Aydınlık claiming Mashaal had been asked to move to Turkey, in an article published last week. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that although Hamas may not have accepted the move, "everyone is free to come to Turkey, regardless of their country of origin."

Turkey has a history of welcoming people expelled from Qatar, including seven senior Muslim Brotherhood members given the boot in September. Mashaal was also rumored then to be on his way to being expelled - rumors which Hamas at the time denied.

Qatar has threatened Mashaal with expulsion in the past; last August during Operation Protective Edge, a senior member of the Palestinian Authority (PA) said Hamas chose to breach one of the many ceasefires with Israel due to a Qatari threat to expel Mashaal.

During the press conference, Al Attiyah also claimed there is no conflict between Qatar and Egypt, whose relations are believed to have turned frosty recently. 

"The only differences are different points of view, and we are trying to bridge them," he said.

Relations between the countries deteriorated after the ouster of Egyptian President and leader Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi, who was a big supporter of Qatar. 

Egypt has also previously claimed that the Qataris interfere in their internal affairs and that Qatari-owned televsion network Al Jazeers is biased and hostile to the current Egyptian government. 

Many considered Qatar's supposed expulsion of Mashaal and Muslim Brotherhood members as an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the Egyptians.